The Joker swung open the door with flourish. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. "Isn't it just… beautiful Harley?"
"Isn't what beautiful?"
The atmosphere. The fall air, the helicopters, the sunset, the scores of tiny police officers scrambling below. It's amazing."
Quinzel stepped beside him and took a breath too. "I see what you mean. Speaking of the helicopters though, it looks like our ride is here."
On cue, one of the news choppers began descending toward them. The two stood strong against the powerful gusts as it landed. The door to the cockpit opened and a man in a clown mask stepped out.
"I got the chopper, Boss. Just like you asked."
Joker patted him on the shoulder. Good man. Did you bring the package I requested?"
"It's in the back."
Joker practically skipped to the side of the helicopter and opened it up, revealing several gas canisters.
Oh, Harley, this evening has been just perfect. I got to spend some quality time with friends, educate some starry-eyed kids, and now we can escape together while leaving behind enough Joker Gas to wipe out the entire gotham SWAT team."
Harley hopped up into the helicopter and grabbed a canister. "Not to mention the Arkham staff, news reporters, and those brat kids."
"Let's not waste time, Harley," said Joker as he grabbed a canister too. "All good days must come to an end, and this one doesn't have much time left."
"We don't have much time left," said Artemis.
"Then you should be glad I was able to put my costume on in a record 37 seconds," said Batgirl as she opened the door to the stairwell. "I hope we can get Dick in time. I think Hush took him downstairs."
The two vigilantes sped down the staircase, passing Mad Hatter's still unconscious body on the way.
"How long until the police bust in?" asked Artemis.
Batgirl didn't slow down as she answered. "By now most of the kids have probably reached the barricade. With the hostages secure, the SWAT will charge in any minute."
"Which will panic Hush, probably causing him to shoot Dick."
Batgirl didn't respond. She couldn't afford to think about that right now. As they passed another floor, they saw an open doorway. They peered out and saw Hush dragging Dick through a hall. The two heroes ran after, not bothering with saw them and doubled his speed, lifting Dick off the ground by his waist. He tucked the teen under his shoulder and dove into a room marked, "Infirmary."
The girls entered the infirmary, and found Hush with his back to a slide of X-rays. He had one pistol aimed at them and one pressed into Dick's neck. "You stay right where you are or I blow his pretty little head off. Artemis tucked her mini crossbow away. "Take it easy Elliot. don't do something you'll regret."
Batgirl stepped closer. "The police are on their way up. It's over. You can't take them all. Don't make it worse."
Hush laughed, "Worse? You don't know what kind of place this is."
He pushed the muzzle of his pistol harder into Dick's flesh.
"Waking up here is worse than any hell you could imagine. Being surrounded by these lunatics.. those quack doctors… if you weren't crazy when you came here, you will be soon."
He grinned with madness and fired a shot at their feet.
"You have no power over me. You pathetic girls have nothing to threaten me with. Nothing will stop me from killing this boy."
"And then what?'" growled Dick. "Killing me won't make you a better person than Bruce Wayne."
"Shut up!" growled Hush, as he slammed the butt of a pistol into Dick's temple. Batgirl took the opportunity to fling a batarang at him, striking his wrist. Hush swore at the pain, stepping back from Dick. The boy elbowed him in the gut, prompting him to drop his guns and stagger. Batgirl ran up and leapt into the air. She drove her heel into the base of his skull. Hush hell and bounced off the wall, shattering the X-rays.
"Thanks, " said Dick."Did you bring my suit and belt?"
Artemis nodded and tossed him the items.
Joker and his crazy doctor headed to the roof. We should go see what they're doing."
"Sure, said Dick as he unfolded his suit. "Just turn around for a second. "
Batgirl raised an eyebrow. "We're in a hurry."
"Well sorry for being a guy. I'll be quick."
As she turned, Artemis said, "Batgirl changed in 37 seconds."
"Come on! That's just plain unfair. Cheater."
Joker set down the last canister. "Alright, we're all set. Let's blow this popcorn stand."
Quinzel looked puzzled.
"Oh Harley, it's an expression. Though we should blow up an actual popcorn stand at a later date."
Joker paused and cupped a hand to his ear. "Did you hear that?"
Quinzel shook her head. She couldn't hear much of anything over the helicopters.
"It sounded like grapple lines. Henchman! Whatever your name is! Get a gun."
The pilot ran back and grabbed a sawed off shotgun. Quinzel pulled out a small revolver and a hammer from the helicopter. Joker whipped out his switchblades.
"Come out and play, kiddos."
Three costumed teens soared onto the roof, propelled by the momentum of their freshly-released grapple lines. Robin landed first, right in front of the Joker. The clown charged at him, swinging his knifes wildly. Robin brought up his escrima sticks, furiously trying to keep ahead of his attacker by parrying each slash. Each time he did, the blades left a slight nick on his weapons. One slash went long, and grazed the skin on his forehead. He pressed n, ignoring the small drops of blood traveling down his brow.
The pilot aimed his shotgun, but Artemis fired before he could. The arrow traveled into the barrel of his gun, releasing a payload of high-density polyurethane foam. As he pulled the trigger, the gun jammed before splitting in two. The top half struck him in the center of his face, knocking him out and leaving a strange, rectangular bruise.
Batgirl quickly realized that Quinzel was more athletic than she looked. Unknown to the teen vigilante, she had attended college on a gymnastics scholarship. After a few years, she finally got the opportunity to use her skills again. She flipped back to avoid a string of Batgirl's strikes. As the teenager threw a batarang, Quinzel swung her hammer, expertly knocking the bladed projectile away. She then jumped into the air, soaring over Batgirl. When she landed, she lashed out with her leg, hitting Batgirl in the gut. Batgirl rolled out of the way as Quinzel slammed the hammer right where her head had been half a second ago.
Artemis loaded a bola arrow and fired at the Joker. The clown was quickly ensnared and tripped over himself. His arms were tightly bound, and he dropped both of his knives. Joker just laughed.
"Click your heels together and wish you were back home!" As he clicked his heels, a stout blade popped out of his shoe, right under his toes. He hopped up and ran at Artemis, kicking at her savagely. Artemis went on the defensive, stepping back to avoid each strike. She sidestepped out of the way, allowing Joker to trip again.
Artemis aimed her bow, but Quinzel came in from behind, brandishing the hammer. Artemis instinctively blocked with her crossbow, which shattered as the hammer hit it.
The Joker used the blade on his shoe to slice through his constraints, and grabbed one of his knives. He slashed at Artemis, missing her throat but slicing through her ponytail. Robin and Batgirl ran up together, hitting the two attacker from behind. They both jumped in the air, but Quinzel could jump just as high. She hit Robin first, driving the hammer into the boy's wrist. Robin landed in a heap, clutching his wrist and trying to block out the oncoming wave of pain. Quinzel turned her attention to Batgirl, driving her to the edge of the roof.
Batgirl ducked and swayed as Quinzel refused to let up. Finally an opening presented itself and Batgirl punched her in the stomach, then delivering a counterstrike to her attackers elbow that released the hammer from her grip. The hammer soared through the air before tumbling to the crowd below.
Quinzel gave a final growl of rage before tackling Batgirl. Without thinking, Batgirl forced her grip free and pushed her to the side. Quinzel didn't have time to react as her foot slipped over the edge of the roof. She screamed as she fell over the side.
Joker reacted instantly. He shoved Artemis to the side and ran off the side too. His gangly body quickly caught up to Quinzel. He wrapped a thin arm around her and looked into her eyes. She saw a smile, slightly more warm and sincere than his usual grin. She smiled back and got lost in his eyes. They crashed through a sheet of glass sand theiralmost tender moment ended with a sudden shock.
Bruce slowly opened the hospital door. It was fairly late, and he was afraid Dick might be sleeping. In fact the boy was wide awake, reading through the various cards people had left him. He saw Bruce and waved, his enthusiasm only slightly reduced by the weight of the cast around his wrist.
"Hey Bruce, glad you could make it." Dick's voice had a slightly sing-song quality to it.
Bruce smiled and sat next to Dick. "I understand you had an eventful field trip."
"I guess so. Your friend Dr. Elliot says hi, by the way."
Bruce affectionately rubbed Dick's head. "I assume you and the girls kept your identities sufficiently secret?"
Dick chuckled, "Yea, though if they give me any more painkillers my ability to keep secrets will become happened to Joker and Dr. Quinzel?"
"They both survived. They landed in Poison Ivy's botany garden and were hospitalized. A cell is waiting for each of them at Arkham."
"I'm sorry the trip went so crazy."
"Oh, Dick. It wasn't your fault."
"You warned me about it," said Dick, his head sinking into his pillow. "You didn't even want me to go."
"I think you performed admirably, all things considered. You made the best of a terrible situation using your training and intelligence."
Dickn laughed. "Fine. You win, I guess. Though Babs and Artemis helped a lot. They saved me, for one thing."
"Maybe they'll get extra credit."
Dick laughed again. "Are the drugs getting to me or was that a joke?"
"Get some rest Dick. You've earned it."